Complete Checklist For Camping in a Tent with Kids

I love impromptu road trips, camping trips, holiday trips, basically being able to take the kids on a short weekend trip without much planning in advance. But figuring out I left something essential at home (like the baby diaper) can ruin my mood and that’s the last thing I want on my holiday.

With camping, you want everything to be in one spot. I don’t want to have to drive to some store somewhere to buy some essentials just because I forgot it, that’s a waste of time. So I’ve made a camping checklist I can refer to anytime I’m packing for my next family camping trip. Of course, I’m a ‘last minute’ kinda person which means … I really need that checklist.

Now I’m going to assume you are car camping, which I know camping purist out there will say it doesn’t count as camping. But anyway, that’s how I like it especially with the kids. This means, most likely you won’t be able to bring all the items in my camping checklist in a backpack or two.

Of course, feel free to change it to suit your own family. Use it as a guide only.

Also, I’m going to assume your campground will have some basic amenities so if it doesn’t, make sure you add some items to cater for that.

Tip: You can always keep your camping items ready in a plastic tub somewhere so going on an impromptu camping trip would be easy. Just add things here and there, and you’re out the door. No stress.

Sleeping and Shelter

Well you are camping in a tent so you’ll need:

  • The tent itself (if you need to upgrade, make sure you check out my review: Best 6 person tent review)
  • Rainfly and tarp or footprint (if your tent doesn’t come with one)
  • Sleeping Mats
  • Sleeping Bag
  • (Optional) air bed – depending of your sleeping preference
  • Pillows
  • (Optional) extra blanket

For the kids:

  • Special comfort item (my daughter has a little toy snowman)

Essential Gear

  • Power cord extension
  • (In Australia) portable RCD to convert 15AMP to normal household 10AMP
  • (In any other country) check the camp site if it’s full hookup, what amp is required i.e. 30/20
  • camping lantern (check out my post Camping Lantern Reviews)
  • headlamps (at least two) or flashlights
  • Extra battery
  • Knife or multipurpose tool
  • Camping furniture: chairs for the kids and parents
  • Portable table (check out my post Portable picnic table review)
  • (optional) separate beach shelter
  • (optional) Portable toilet for middle-of-the-night use (check out my post Camping Portable Potty: When you need to go in the middle of the night) – add cat litter and toilet tissues while you’re at it.

Cooking equipment

This depends on how big your car is and how much you can fit. Try not to bring your whole kitchen with you though – don’t get carried away.

  • Portable Stove (I like my one-burner butane stove like this one)
  • The fuel (mine is butane, but it could be propane or LPG). Make sure you bring extra
  • deep large-ish pot for cooking stovetop recipes. Mine is 12″, and it’s about 3″ deep or you can take the only pan you’ll need: cast iron skillet

  • Toaster
  • Electric kettle or if you want something cool like I always do, a whistling kettle like this one (Check out how cool that looks)
  • Thermos (1 Litre is a good size)
  • Basic cooking utensils like a turner and bbq thongs
  • Plates, cutlery, cups
  • Match or lighter
  • Scissors, knife, chopping block
  • A tub of condiments, salt + pepper, long-life milk, coffee, tea, sugar, and don’t forget: cooking oil
  • Cooler and ice blocks or ice to keep your food and drink cold.
  • (Optional) tupperware for keeping some left over or to organise the food in the first place
  • (Optional) aluminium foil – actually, I find this pretty essential
  • (Optional) tea towel
  • (Optional) bottle opener and corkscrew
  • Rubbish bin (buckets would do) and plastic bags for rubbish

More stuff for the kids:

  • Sand toys or any kind of toy
  • Board game or card game
  • Scooters, balance bike, real bikes

And of course, clothing and toiletries:

  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, some soap and shampoo (travel size recommended)
  • extra pair of socks and underwear
  • extra pair of shoes or sandals
  • Towels. (Quick dry towel is great if you want to save space)
  • Clothes that you and your family need (Tips: three pair is good i.e. one drying, one in the wash, one you wear)
  • Swimwear

If you have baby or young toddler:

  • bottle, bottle brush, formula or milk
  • diaper
  • swim diaper
  • and about five more change of clothes

Extra tip: the kids will get their clothes dirty. Leave them be for the whole day because there is really no need to change them into a fresh pair of clean clothes just to be dirtied again in the next 5 minutes. You can put them in their PJ’s before they sleep at night and that’s when you ban them from going outside.

camping with kids
Those two kid camping chairs are essential

Well, there you have it. That’s my camping checklist. You can always add more or subtract from it, but at least it gets you started.

Happy holiday,




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